That Time I was Zambora, The Gorilla Girl

Oh boy…. can you guys smell it? The crisp, hero-licios scent of my cape? We’re almost there… Seriously, I just peed my pants a little bit.

Today, the Commissioner Gordons over at Zero to Hero have insisted that we write a couple of drafts after going back and revisiting some of the posts we’ve written. This is meant to help us see what our readers have responded to the most.

I have learned that my readers respond to me being a smartass and making fun of myself. I’m not sure what this says about either of us, but one thing is for sure, we’re all going to need a lot more alcohol.

I have a little “notepad” that I jot blog ideas on. Actually, it’s this brilliant thing called Stickies on my Macbook Pro. Oh Apple, how I love you and your glorious products.

**Apple people who are no doubt reading this, please send all payola requests to, and reference ‘Apple thanks you for your continued support and wants to give you free stuff forever because you’re hilarious and pretty and we wouldn’t be where we are without you so here’s some money, too’.** 

I actually usually start posts on the stickies, rather than in the drafts as I’m not always able to get online. But something curious happened as I was browsing through my posts. I found a draft entitled, “That Time I Was Zambora the Gorilla Girl” nestled in between all of the other gems.

So as my cape wearing quest continues, I present to you another one of the incredibly weird things I’ve done because I was young and needed the money.


It was the summer after I graduated high school in 1993 (please hold all, “Wow you look great for your age” comments until the end). I had actually started doing college radio in my senior year of high school thanks to my friend Laurie, and was quickly understanding the path I wanted to follow. You see, I always knew that I wanted to be in the music business somehow..I just didn’t know how or what to do about it.

I moved quickly once I knew what needed to be done. I had already been accepted to the college of my choice thanks to the early start at the radio station and it didn’t take me long to figure out how easy it was to play this new privilege to my advantage. You know, like the “If I knew then, what I know now” type of thing. I was receiving free CD’s, getting on guest lists, and given the chance to do interviews with big time artists like Alice Cooper.

At the time, there was this big metal / hard rock music convention out in Burbank / Los Angeles called Foundations Forum. I knew that I had to get there at all costs, for this is where I would meet the people who would help get me to the next level of my young career and get me hammered on the sweet, sweet industry booze of life. That wasn’t a metaphor. I was only 18 and not allowed to buy alcohol, so I knew the industry people would buy it for me so that I would play their bands on the radio. This is also where I learned all about the term payola, referenced above.

But what was an 18-year-old telemarketer / waitress right out of high school to do? Stripping would have been the easy answer, but then I remembered I wasn’t in an after school special and that I don’t know Meredith Baxter-Birney.


I remember that a friend had told me that she read somewhere there that the New Jersey State Fair were looking for people to work some of the jobs. This was the traveling carnival that came through every state for 2 weeks a year, and usually had local “big” talent play a few gigs to bring in more people. This particular year, “local” heroes The Hooters were going to play. Yes, that’s right, All You Zombies…you know what I’m talking about.

I got in my crappy little Mazda, that was so beat up, they wouldn’t pass me through inspection because they said someone could walk by and hurt themselves on it, and drove to the Cherry Hill race track, where the State Fair was being held. I had remembered my friend telling me I’d want to speak to a guy called Big Bert.

Big Bert looked me up and down.

“How’d you like to be Zambora?”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“Come with me,” he said. Bert was certainly a large redneck fellow. Like John Popper, circa 1991 redneck large.


Mucho respect to John Popper, both for his skills as a musician, and not dying before dropping the weight. Respect, Mr. Popper. Respect.

He took me into a tent where the show was about to start. I watched as this girl slowly turned into a gorilla. It was the tackiest thing I had ever seen and I knew I had to do it.

He took me to a trailer in the back and gave me this skimpy little leopard print bikini top and matching sarong type thing with a slit up the side. I was introduced to the petite Zambora I had just seen turn into a primate. Her name was”Little Lisa”, and I realized then, that carnie folks weren’t very clever with their nicknames. I learned that she had been traveling with the carnival for 4 years and was going to show me how the illusion was done so she could rush over to her regular post at “The Model Without a Head” (as you do).

The cassette (yup, cassette) played through the crackly speakers…

Cue bongo drums…

“Deep in the heart of the Amazon, scientists discovered Zambora, the girl who could turn into a gorilla….”


I was to stand on two wooden blocks with my arms down at my sides, legs together, and head down. The reason for the wooden blocks was so that I would be the same size as the guy in the gorilla suit. I was never actually facing the crowd. It was my reflection in a mirror. It was literally all done with smoke and mirrors and some clever lighting. When I heard my cue through the crackly PA system,

“Zambora! Show the people that you are alive!”,

I was to take a step out, put my hands on my hips, and look up (out into the audience presumably, as per the illusion). The transformation would then begin as the lights would fade and slowly reveal the guy in the gorilla suit, who would then, once fully revealed, shake the “cage” and break it, therefore being “on the loose” and scaring the crap out of the gullible audience.

Whenever it was slow, I’d be taken onto the “stage”, which was a small platform outside of our tent, and handcuffed. I was taken out with Big Bert and another “handler”. I can’t remember his name, but it was probably Skinny Steve or something, likely because he was skinny and named Steve. I was told to act wild like an animal. My hair was very, very long at the time (still is, actually) and it was easy for me to whip it around as I was also a professional metal head and this is what we did and hence, I looked crazy.

During one of my crazy stage performances, I caught a glimpse of a couple of guys I want to school with and proceeded to flip all of my hair in front of my face and just hoped they hadn’t seen me.

Approximately 7 performances later, as the tape cued me with, “Zambora, show the people that you are alive,” I looked up so that my face would be seen by the audience and heard someone yell out, “Holy shit! I went to high school with that chick!”

Anyway, long story a little bit less longer than it could be, I worked there for the full two weeks, partied with the carnies, got enough money to go to Foundations Forum,  and worked the carnival the following summer….

…as The Snake Girl.

The girl with the head of a girl, and the body of a snake.

But that’s another story…..



snake girl

So let ‘er rip. Let me hear the weirdest thing you did because you were young and needed the money.


42 responses to “That Time I was Zambora, The Gorilla Girl

  1. I love being the first to like yours and Ana posts, especially because I do like them. I don’t care about the self impaling but I do love the sarcasm and wits. Keep it up E. Can I call you E.? Sure I can, ‘cuz I just did; twice even E. (Make that thrice!)

  2. xD. Still didn’t pee my pants btw. Oh, Frank said you should totally come check out our site and read at least one post to see how I framed him in the newsletter sign up box .

  3. Not sure if this is funny because it’s true or funny because, well, the whole making fun of yourself thing. Either way, a good time was had by me. And others it seems!

    • It’s both, but mostly because it’s true. I wish someone had taken photos of the whole ordeal to further embarrass myself. All I have are the traumatic memories and inkling to stand with my hands on my hips whenever I hear bongos.

  4. I remember seeing that act at the fair when I was a youngster… apparently people have been turning into gorillas at lot longer then one might expect.

  5. Pingback: Give Me Money. | The Playground·

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